I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a certified running coach ever since I started marathon training with my own coach, Sam Murphy, in 2009, and in particular, since I created this blog in December 2010. Usually, I’m not the type of person who signs up for personal training or coaching, primarily because it’s quite expensive and I can’t justify the cost. I love to run/exercise, I work hard and I devour running/general fitness articles, so it’s not like I need the motivation!

However, training for my first marathon was daunting, and although I’m sure I would have performed well had I simply trained and researched on my own, I wanted to make sure that I pushed myself as hard as possible without injuring myself. As many of you know, that’s a fine line!

Sam gave me the specific knowledge, structured training and support that really helped me reach my goals. Having someone there for me throughout the ups and downs of my training, armed with incredibly useful, tailored advice, was crucial to my success and in my opinion, worth every penny. So I guess it’s not that surprising that I would want to learn more and help other runners, after having had such a positive coaching experience of my own!

As some of my running buddies can tell you, I already act as an informal coach of sorts – dispensing various information when relevant, and often taking the lead as motivator in a more structured run. It would be wonderful to deepen my running knowledge not only to benefit my own training, but also to allow me to formally coach other runners safely and with greater confidence. Additionally, a coaching certification program would, of course, fit in VERY nicely with my current nutrition course!

Over the last week, I finally started to research how I could become a full-fledged running coach – both in the UK and the US, as it’s best to explore both options!

In the UK, United Kingdom Athletics offer a wide variety of coaching qualifications, including a Leadership in Running Fitness Award, which would qualify me as a UK Athletics level 1 coach. This course serves as a prerequisite for the level 2 Coach in Running Fitness Award, which is the qualification my coach holds and that I would like to achieve. Unfortunately, the timing isn’t ideal – the next LiRF course is in June, but there’s a possibility it may be cancelled due to a lack of interest and there isn’t another one that I can attend for awhile. Even if it isn’t cancelled, I must wait three months after completing it until I can enroll in the CiRF course, but there isn’t one currently scheduled anywhere close to London later in the year. I was told, however, that additional courses may be added, so I will keep checking the website.

Also, although the CiRF course is technically only three days, there is a period of several months in between the second and third day so that you can apply what you’ve learned before taking the final exam. This makes perfect sense, but that takes me to early 2012 if I’m lucky, and who knows where I’ll be then! Slightly more complicated than I had originally hoped, and I am kicking myself for not having looked into this sooner, but I obviously can’t let this discourage me.

Lastly, I need to consider the consequences, if any, of becoming qualified in the UK and ultimately coaching in the US. I suppose it would make more sense to study in the US if that is where I will eventually settle, but I’m not sure if it really matters with something like this. What do you think?

The Road Runners Club of America seems to be the UK Athletics equivalent in the US, and the best resource for a running coach qualification. Unfortunately, there aren’t many courses currently scheduled that have availability, and the only one that does is in Minnesota! No thanks. Apparently I can host a course in my area (I’ll be in CA in September, so that would be ideal), so I might look into that. I am a master organizer, after all! Anyone in the San Francisco or Los Angeles area interested in becoming a RRCA qualified running coach?! Otherwise, I’ve signed up to receive further information for additional courses that open up…fingers crossed!

So, I guess for the time being it seems that I cannot begin my coaching training as soon as I had hoped, but at least I have started the research process. I could perhaps just take the LiRF to jump start my training and leave me with the basics of coaching groups and in particular, beginner runners, and see where that leads me. I think I’ll sleep on it…

If anyone has any advice on this topic or anything else to add, please let me know!